Celebrities make adoption look easy. $30,000? A drop in the bucket. You flip through your favorite supermarket magazine and see that your favorite actress suddenly has a new baby, seemingly without the process, without the wait. They’ve paid the fees in cash and have only blue skies ahead, not mounds of debt. With that comes the widely held myth that adoption is only for the rich and famous. Who else could afford it? While the high costs of adoption are a scary reality, it does not make affording adoption impossible for the everyday family! For the other 99% of us who have a debt history, adoption may seem like a pipe dream, but debt does not always disqualify!
My husband and I had always planned to adopt. The plan was to adopt, down the line, when we had our finances in order. Married for five years, we quickly realized that we may never be in place where $20,000-$30,000 was feasible for us. I was paying student loans until the end of time and though we were smart about our money, we did have debt from cars, household loans, etc. It was when I had just started a new job with a pay cut, our finances were tight, and nothing was close to being paid off that we were asked to adopt a child. When we received the questionnaire packet from the adoption agency, the question about our debt made my heart sink. Surely, they would see the $30,000 in student loans alone and disqualify us immediately. Luckily, we soon learned that adoption was not just for the Angelinas of the world and our debt would not be our downfall.
When an adoption agency is looking through your financials, they are not looking for perfection.
Of course, if money’s no object or you have no debt, that is certainly a great thing! However, adoption agencies expect that you will have a debt history. Debt is a fact of life. It is understood that most people cannot go through college without debt, buy a car or home outright, or avoid payment plans on life’s unexpected necessities. Debt does not disqualify. However, the agency does want to see that the costs that come with raising a child will not break the bank or cause you to incur more debt than you can handle.
Your debt-to-income ratio will be what matters the most when an agency is assessing your financial state. Are you paying out more money than you are taking in? Is your debt causing financial struggles so much so that a child would make the situation more dire? It is not entirely about the kind of debt you have or even the amount of debt you have, but rather your ability to manage that debt. If you have to take out a loan for the adoption as we did, the agency also wants to see that the cost of adoption will not create a financial crisis. If you are successfully paying on your debts with a little money to spare each month, you will likely be a good financial candidate for adoption.
If you are worried about your debt-to-income ratio, it is advisable to lay out your budget to see what kind of money you are spending and on what kinds of things. Often times, you will find there are many expenses you can give up or go without for a time. My husband and I put our gym membership on hold and decreased our food budget by not dining out. Those two eliminations saved us almost $200 a month! It is also wise to figure out what small debts you might be able to pay off now in order to make your debt history a bit smaller. Debt is something that needs to and can easily be managed. Don’t let debt scare you from adopting, but rather manage your debt and everyday expenditures to make your dream a reality and the financial future brighter for your growing family.